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Tuesday, 16 April, 2002, 21:10 GMT 22:10 UK
Trimble calls on SF leader to testify
David Trimble: Ulster Unionist leader
Mr Trimble made his remarks in London
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has been urged to testify to a US Congressional hearing on the IRA's links with FARC guerillas in Colombia by the Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble.

Mr Trimble accused Mr Adams of treating the US Congress with contempt, because of his reluctance to testify at the hearing in Washington later this month.

The West Belfast MP has not yet ruled out attending the hearing on 24 April, but said he had been strongly advised not to go.

Speaking in London on Tuesday, Mr Trimble also urged the republican movement to break its ties with all international terrorist organisations.

Gerry Adams: Sinn Fein President
Gerry Adams: Undecided as to whether he will testify at the congressional hearing

"We very much hope that Mr Adams summons up the courage to go to Washington in response to the invitation that has been given to him to attend those hearings and to give evidence," he said.

"We hope that his evidence will explain precisely what his organisation was doing and what connection, if any, it has with the car bombs that have been going off in Colombia over the course of the last week two and indeed the mortars that have gone off elsewhere."

Significant step

Last month, Colombian prosecutors formally charged three IRA suspects with teaching bomb-making to Marxist rebels, bringing the men's trial a significant step closer.

Prosecutors passed the case to a federal judge six months after the three men were arrested while leaving an area controlled by the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The three, Jim Monaghan, Martin McCauley and Niall Connolly, face up to eight years in jail if convicted.

Two of the men are from the Republic of Ireland and one is from Northern Ireland.

The hearing is entitled: The IRA in Colombia - the Global Links of International Terrorism.

Technical evidence

The three men in custody have denied the allegations, and bought advertising space in a newspaper in February to say they had been "framed as part of attempts to damage peace talks between the government and rebels".

Under Colombian law, the three men have the right to appeal against the prosecutor's charges. The judge decides if the case should go forward, and if so, sets a trial date.

According to the prosecutor's report, witnesses have testified that they saw the three men in the Switzerland-sized zone in southern Colombia controlled by the FARC.

Technical evidence revealed traces of explosives on their clothes, the report said.

Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble:
"We hope that Mr Adams summons up the courage to go to Washington in response to the invitation that has been given"
See also:

16 Apr 02 | Northern Ireland
Trimble in talks with loyalist commission
30 Mar 02 | Northern Ireland
Adams 'advised' not to attend US hearing
09 Mar 02 | Northern Ireland
Trimble calls for border poll
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